Trojan probe schools ‘not improved’

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Five Birmingham schools declared failing by inspectors in the wake of the alleged “Trojan Horse” takeover plot by hardline Muslims have still not improved, Ofsted has warned.

It has taken too much time to appoint new governors and senior leaders at these schools, meaning that “very little action” has been taken to address the serious concerns raised about their performance, the watchdog said.

In the first update following inspections earlier this year, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said that “too much poor practice remained unchallenged during the summer term”.

In one case, at Park View Academy, “little had been done” to tackle segregation between the sexes, and encourage boys and girls to sit together in lessons and share ideas, inspectors warned.

The action and improvement plans of all five schools are “not fit for purpose”, Sir Michael said.

Four separate probes were conducted into the allegations in Birmingham, which were originally sparked by the ”Trojan Horse” letter – now widely believed to be a hoax – that referred to an alleged plot by hardline Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards in the city.

In June, Ofsted issued a damning verdict on the running of a number of Birmingham’s schools and declared five failing, placing them into special measures.

These schools were: Golden Hillock School, Nansen Primary School and Park View Academy – all run by the Park View Educational Trust (PVET), as well as Oldknow Academy and Saltley School.

The advice note also warns that there has been “very little change to the existing unbalanced curriculum” in each of the schools.

At Golden Hillock school, teenagers studying for a GCSE in RE “have to teach themselves for options other than Islam”, Ofsted said, leaving students at a “significant disadvantage”.

Following the publication of the investigations into the Trojan Horse scandal, ministers announced that in future, all schools will be required to ”actively promote” British values such as democracy, tolerance, mutual respect, the rule of law and individual liberty.

While plans have been drawn up to revamp the curriculum at each of the five schools inspected, these often lack the detail needed to ensure that action will be taken to actively promote these values and tolerance of different faiths, Ofsted said.

Inspectors conducted unannounced follow-up visits to the five schools, four of which are academies and the fifth run by the local council, during a week last month.

The findings also showed that staff at the schools had “some optimism” that there would be changes, but they also raised concerns about equality and fairness.

Some staff said some people at their school hold jobs that they do not have the experience or qualifications for, the advice note said.

It also criticised Birmingham Council for failing to show Ofsted the plan it has drawn up in response to the findings of the investigations into the alleged Trojan Horse plot.

Sir Michael called on the Department for Education (DfE) to look at how it can take more rapid action to change the trustees and governors of an academy school when there are serious concerns about how it is being run.

The department should also make sure that it and local councils are consistent in carrying out their legal duties to make sure children are kept safe in school, and review the responsibilities for drawing up action plans for academies where the governance is inadequate.

A DfE spokesman said: “These reports are a snapshot. They reflect the particular circumstances of the schools and the time at which the inspections took place, in some cases just a couple of days into the start of the new school year.

“We are confident that the strong leadership teams we have put in place mean that change will be rapid and effective once it has had more than a few weeks to have an impact.”

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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